Pittsburgh Weddings: Valley Brook Country Club

This recent wedding was tons of fun and I think the bride and groom will look back on it with many fond memories. The day started with your usual pre-wedding hustle and bustle, the ceremony was sweet and heartfelt and the reception was joyous with a full dance floor thanks to music by the Bachelor Boys Band. But, let’s start at the very beginning (or at least, the time my coverage started!) with the bride in her gown from One Enchanted Evening in Zelienople, Pa. And the bouquet, which is better seen below is by Hearts and Flowers Floral Design in Hampton, Pa. The flowers were truly lovely!

bride in dress from One Enchanted Evening

I love it when brides turn the corner to walk down the aisle with a lowered gaze. It’s so bashful and bride-like. Then she looks up and sees the room full with adoring guests and her groom anxiously awaiting her at the other end.

father walking daughter down the aisle

Their vows were sweet. And having been married for 10 years myself, I feel there was a lot of wisdom in the wording they chose. It might seem funny for a photographer to share an opinion about that, but I felt like saying a big amen!

wedding vows

The Valley Brook Country Club is an absolutely lovely venue for a wedding. The ceremony was supposed to take place outside, but it rained the night before and the grounds were pretty soggy, so they used the reception space for the ceremony and transformed it for the reception during the cocktail hour – impressive!

portraits at Valley Brook Country Club

Love this line-up of the bridal party on the bridge and I think they were having fun with it too.

bridal party at Valley Brook Country Club

Look at how he embraces her! Such a lovely couple!

bride and groom on bridge

I can’t take any credit for this fun shot. It was their idea and so much fun!

bridesmaids and groom

Seeing the way a bride and groom look at each other can really make a difference. Just love the expression on his face!

smitten groom

Love seeing her cathedral veil outstretched in this shot, but even more the feeling between these too.

flowers by Hearts and Flowers Floral Design

The toast had lots of laughs and sentiment.


Some quests requested the bride and groom sing one of their karaoke classics and they obliged!

karaoke wedding reception

This is one of my favorite shots of the night. It’s just about the last song, Sweet Caroline, and everyone was into it!

dancing at the wedding reception

Congratulations and blessings to this happy couple!

Pittsburgh Newborn: Finding Natural Light in the Home

When possible, I love to use natural lighting for newborn sessions. When I first spoke with this mama, she was concerned about whether her home had enough natural light and I assured her that I’d do a quick walk-through to find some of the best spaces and bring supplemental lighting as back-up. But look at this first portrait of her and sweet baby by the window. So glad I didn’t need to get out my strobes until later!

mama and her baby at the window

Sometimes siblings of newborns are in a tender state as they adjust to life with a baby. For that reason, I love taking some time to make them feel special too.

dad and big sister

We still haven’t left their bedroom as it has lots of soft light and the bed is a perfect place to photograph the whole family.

family portrait on the bed

Just love how babies gaze at their parents and this little guy seemed to be very aware of his surroundings.

father and son

I’m not bashful about admitting how I love this arrangement for the parents and baby. My husband and I spent a lot of time on the couch, just checking out our little baby boys, so it comes naturally to suggest this.

baby looking up at his parents

And for a close-up of just the little guy, we snuggled him up in this blanket and placed the basket on the landing of the steps that was washed in bright window light. This baby boy was so close to falling asleep!

snuggly baby boy

Blessings to this sweet baby and his family!

Pittsburgh Family Portraits: Riverview Park

Family portraits with kiddos this little keep me on my toes. They actually used to intimidate me before having my sons who have trained me well in the four years since I became a mom. However, I still feel that before every session with young children, I need to manage expectations, mine included as I know how it feels as a mom to want just one perfect photo of my boys at their best behavior in adorable clothing, with no distractions in the background and good lighting. Actually, I’m not sure most moms have put this desire into words, and even more unlikely those words, but I feel they want something along those lines.

Before becoming a mom, I would have disregarded this photo below. But now I know better to appreciate it. Isn’t this the way it goes sometimes? Wardrobe is carefully planned. Everyone is looking great and there’s just this one thing that isn’t working for this family – this little guy hates laying in the grass. Mom and daughter look great and Dad is trying his best to comfort his son, but it’s just not happening. But fussy baby boy and all, aren’t they a sweet family? And this moment is one that should make them smile someday—remembering what they did in pursuit of the perfect photo. It’s real life and this image was a part of the set in their gallery. We never did get all four of them to smile, or just look at the camera, while they were laying in the grass in this beautiful lighting, but how could I not share this sweetness?

family portrait laying in the grass

There’s something I love about photographing one-year olds. I love how they can look into the camera with no inhibition and really just study it with no pretense for smiles. I have some portraits like this of my sons and they’re still some of my favorites to this day.

happy baby boy

And then they get bigger and learn how to turn on the charm for the camera (when they’re in the mood to comply, that is!) and that is just downright charming.

big sister

For little guys like this one, a ride on daddy’s shoulders is a sure-fire way to get some good father and son portraits.

father and son

And this little sweetheart just did something funny that made her mama laugh and this was the embrace in the moments that followed.

mother and daughter

We did get a couple of family portraits where everyone is looking at the camera and content to be photographed. And that’s a reasonable expectation when it comes to family portraits with little ones. The expectation of getting all smiles is sometimes a tall order, depending on the age and particular mood of the kids in that moment. I do share some things I’ve learned about trying to cultivate a positive environment for photo shoots on my Getting Ready page and it’s definitely worth checking out before your session. I’ll continue to add what I’m learning along the way because I want sessions to go well and understand all of the pressure that comes with getting ready for a photo shoot.

family portrait

And here’s the moment where this little brother and big sister simultaneously shared in big smiles—as they were looking through this park bench! I’ll take it!

brother and sister all smiles

Family Portraits: North Boundary Park, Cranberry, Pa.

This family portrait session was rescheduled due to rain and when we finally got together to shoot, we had a double-dose of sunshine at North Boundary Park in Cranberry, Pa. And the weather was truly fitting for this sweet family as they are fostering to adopt this precious little boy and girl, only a few months apart in age—a double dose of sunshine for sure!

piggy-back portrait

This family is in different stages of adoption and foster care for each child. And I’m only sharing photos that don’t show the little girl’s face for her protection and the protection of her “first” family and foster parents. So this set of photos is short, but I think you’ll agree, there’s no shortage of sweetness! Just love seeing them play and having fun.

playing with daddy

And this capture might be my favorite of the day, it’s Super Girl!

super girl!

Foster and adoptive families have a special place in my heart and I know that this mom and dad feel strongly about foster care too because I asked them before sharing these photos on my blog and I just need to share what this mama said, “Our family was created differently and may not be permanent; however, the love and care we have for one another is. There are so many things that can be hard and emotional about fostering; but you know what? It’s not about me and my husband…it is about her and him and the love they need at that moment. These pictures capture that and can also help piece together important parts of their lives.”

Oh the tears! It’s just such a beautiful expression of love.

family walking together

Blessings to this dear family!

Pittsburgh Weddings: Sheraton at Station Square

I thought after having babies that I would never want to shoot weddings again. I even sold a bit of lighting equipment and my spare camera body (not a wise thing to do just a few months after having a baby). My world changed so much that I had some serious tunnel vision and I thought I’d just shift into photographing babies and kids, which I love! But I have to admit after starting up again last year, it is still so much fun photographing weddings so I’m glad to get back into it even if it’s only part-time for the moment.

Who wouldn’t want to get to witness the moment a bride puts on her gown and her mom and bridesmaids swoon?

all ready!

And look at this loveliness? Weddings are full of so much opportunity for a portrait photographer.

beautiful bride />

I think I mentioned that this is a part-time gig for now, so know that this is not a great overview of the day, just some hand-picked favorites!

bride and groomsmen

If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know that last shot was from the Point. I also love walking along the paths that wind through the trees by the Allegheny River.

bride and groom at the Point

And I can’t get enough walking shots. Everyone should do these. It should be the next selfie, although not by yourself, that would be awkward.

walking with their bridal party

And here’s one last fav in this quick recap. Congrats to the new Mr. and Mrs.!

close-up of Mr. and Mrs.!